Kick The Snowball Drill – Toe Loop Fix (Audrey Weisiger)

World and Olympic coach Audrey Weisiger is working with a young skater who is struggling with properly moving the non-picking foot through the take-off of the double toe loop. This problem is often referred to as a “toe axel” as it looks like the skater is balancing and turning on the toe pick and doing a version of an axel jump. The toe axel problem is challenging to fix, so it’s critical that coaches do not let this issue fester on the single toe loop because it really should not be an issue when the skater is learning the double.

Audrey shares one of the classic solutions for the toe axel problem. It’s a drill called “kick the snowball” and it can be very effective for skaters who respond well to visualization. For the drill itself, Audrey has the skater first create a small snowball (and name it!). She then positions the skater at the wall with the toe pick in the ice and the snowball sitting on the ice where the non-picking foot will pass through. The drill consists of the skater simply drawing the non-picking foot back and kicking the snowball with the side of the blade. This movement prevents the non-picking foot from slowing down or stopping, making a toe axel impossible.

Notice the challenge Audrey has in getting the skater to maintain the correction for the moving jump. It’s often necessary to do lots of stationary kick-the-snowball drills, followed by slow singles, followed by slow “one-and-a-halfs” or “bell jumps” where the skater lands forward. As Audrey explains, when a skater is intimidated by the double, over-riding incorrect muscle memory is nearly impossible, so it’s critical to take things slow and be patient with lots of drills to change the muscle memory using correct repetitions and the simple passage of time (to forget old habits).

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